What Is a Casino?



A casino is a place where people can gamble and play games of chance. Gambling almost certainly predates recorded history, with primitive protodice and carved six-sided dice found at the most ancient archaeological sites. But the casino as a place where patrons could find many different ways to gamble under one roof did not emerge until the 16th century, when the gambling craze swept Europe and Italian noblemen began holding private casinos called ridotti.

Casinos are primarily profitable because they offer their patrons the illusion of hope that they will win big. This hope is deceived because most casino games have mathematically determined odds that ensure the house will always win, generating a negative expected value for the players (also known as the house edge). The profit of a casino is the difference between its house advantage and the total amount bet by customers.

To increase the profits of their businesses, casinos must attract and keep large numbers of customers. They do so by offering lavish inducements, especially to high rollers. These can include free spectacular entertainment, transportation and elegant living quarters. In the case of card games such as blackjack and baccarat, casinos make their profits by taking a commission from each bet or by charging an hourly rate for poker tables.

Casinos employ elaborate security measures to prevent cheating and stealing by their patrons and staff. They may monitor their activities with cameras in every room and hallway, and they can adjust the camera’s focus to track suspicious patrons. Casinos often have windows that are blocked and clocks that are silenced to keep their patrons from realizing how long they have spent gambling and losing money.